Skopje, 9 April 2020 (MIA) – Religions for Peace (RfP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have joining forces to launch a global Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action COVID-19 Initiative to raise awareness of the impacts of this pandemic on the world’s youngest citizens, UNICEF North Macedonia said in a press release Thursday.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with an unprecedented global challenge, touching every community in every nation of the world. The pandemic is causing systems of work, education, finance and domestic lives to grind to a halt, affecting nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Children are facing a range of challenges to their health and safety: school closures, high levels of emotional distress, higher risks of violence and increased food insecurity. We are also seeing an increase in the number of orphans and in the incidence of other diseases due to the break in vaccination services. And we are seeing a growing need for financial and material support for households hardest hit by loss of income and resulting strains,” the press release read.
The Initiative will be coordinated by the global partnership on Faith and Positive Change for Children, Families and Communities, which involves Religions for Peace’s Interreligious Councils, including senior leaders of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions – Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Zoroastrian and Indigenous spirituality. It also includes interfaith youth and women’s networks, in collaboration with the Joint Learning Initiative of Local Faith Communities (JLI) with its membership of International Faith-Based organizations.
“This global partnership now commits to strengthening multi-religious action and community mobilization, in countering the COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release underlined.
The global Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action Covid-19 Initiative calls upon all communities across the world, together with governments, UN entities, and broad civil society organisations, to join forces to adapt faith gatherings, rituals and services in keeping with the RfP-ACT Alliance Statement and WHO Guidance on religious mass gatherings, burials and rituals, and to honour international and national health authorities’ guidance on public gatherings, physical distancing and other critical matters of public health related to faith community gatherings, services and rituals such as funerals, marriages and births for the health and safety of religious followers while developing alternative pastoral approaches.
The initiative also calls on promoting heightened focus on hygiene and sanitation in keeping with religious teachings and sacred texts that emphasize cleanliness as an element of holiness, countering all forms of stigma and discrimination associated with transmission of the disease with active promotion of attitudes and behaviors to uphold the dignity and rights of all people, and providing active engagement of networks of religious communities including faith-based women, and youth, in collaboration with local governance structures, to provide organized voluntary services in spiritual and emotional care and support for parents, children, the elderly and those experiencing disruption and distress in order to provide a source of support, peace, comfort and hope.